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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2010 > Mar > Mar 1

UK Government Lied Over UFO FOI Figures

From: Dave Haith <visions1.nul>
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2010 18:17:08 -0000
Archived: Mon, 01 Mar 2010 19:55:15 -0500
Subject: UK Government Lied Over UFO FOI Figures

UFO researcher Andy Russell seems to have caught the
Government, Nick Pope and Dr David Clarke twisting the
facts over Freedom of Information enquiries on UFOs.

At his blog:


Andy has checked out the figures and his sums add up differently
to those given by the authorities as a reason for closing down
the MOD's reporting facility.

It would be interesting to hear Nick and David's reaction
to this, as I know they are both members of this List.

In an investigation, headed MoD UFO Desk -- The Real Story
Andy, from Wales, writes:


Why after 50 years has the British Government closed down its
Ministry of Defence UFO desk?

Official reasons given by the Government and echoed by Nick Pope
and Dr David Clarke are that it's too costly and the flood of
UFO Freedom of Information Act enquiries is taking up an
increasing and unacceptable amount of time.

The facts have shown that both reasons are bunk -- and even the
Under Secretary of State has been caught repeating a blatant lie
over the figures.

On 23rd December 2009 the UK Government called time on the UFO
Desk, the MoDs UFO reporting facility. Despite operating for
more than 50 years it was now deemed to be a resource the
British Government could no longer justify. According to The
Times, the cost per year was around =A344,000. When we put into
context later how much that equates to in the grander scheme of
things, we can see that it is a drop in a mighty ocean. What was
surprising to me was the evidence that the Government, Nick Pope
and Dr David Clarke have put forward to re-enforce its position
on this decision.

When we look at the decision objectively, with some actual data
and not just vague comments from the aforementioned, we see that
the UFO Desk is not a resource that is particularly draining on
the MoD or the British taxpayer.

First stop in our assessment of the data is the data itself.
Professor Alasdair Roberts, of Sussex University Law School
wrote a paper entitled =91Preliminary Analysis of Data Relating to
the Processing of Freedom of Information Act Requests Received
by the UK Ministry of Defence (Revised May 2009). Professor
Roberts took data received from the MoD which showed all the
FOIA requests made since 2005 and broke it down into categories
such as the type of people making requests (such an ex-employee,
media/journalists, private individuals etc), whether the
requests received the requested documents etc. So in short, it
was a snapshot of the FOIA function of the MoD.

Professor Roberts highlights that since 2005 FOIA requests to
the MoD have been declining. He also explains that the reason
FOIA requests (in general) were so high is because there was a
=91pent up' need for information that the FOIA was now addressing
and since then there was a decline in requests that was expected
to continue to this present day. And judging by the fact that
Professor Roberts was updated in May 2009, we can see that this
assumption is proving correct.

In relation to UFO requests the decline in requests is also

If we take a quick snapshot:

2005: 199 UFO related requests
2006: 140 UFO related requests
2007: 120 UFO related requests

So we can see the diminishing requests for information. Now, out
of the data of the 15,627 requests made in total to the MoD,
there are just 459 requests pertaining to UFOs. So our UFO
requests snapshot equates to only 2.93% of enquiries.

Which is hardly the picture Nick Pope, Dr Clarke and the
Government are painting.

Now, in their official briefings, as highlighted on Dr Clarke's
blog dated 18 January 2010, the MoD did not expect the volume of
UFO requests to reduce, but according to the MoDs own data, that
demand was diminishing every year. Yet these same MoD officials
were able to effectively lie to the Secretary of State and claim
that the work regarding responding to UFO FOIA enquiries was
"[distracting] them from more important priorities".

As we have looked at the data we have seen that this only
equates to 2.93% of their FOIA requests. There are larger
categories of requests such as the Iraq war, the Afghanistan
conflict, yet the MoD is quibbling about 2.93%? Do not insult
our intelligence.

According to Under Secretary for Defence Tom Watson "There is a
real and enduring interest in Unidentified Flying Objects. By
far the most popular topic of FOI requests has been UFOs,
followed by recruitment enquiries, enquiries from staff, and
historical events such as World War Two, the Falklands conflict
and the Balkans. Recent freedom of information releases on UFOs
have attracted media interest from as far away as Japan."

But this is an out and out lie! And even IF they were the most
popular topic, they still represented only 2.93% of the overall
requests made.

Another good snapshot of the small amount of UFO FOIA requests
made to the MoD comes via the website whatdotheyknow.com. This
is an automated service which allows users to auto-generate and
auto-submit FOIA requests to any branch of Government. The great
thing about this is that we can see the requests and their
responses. Now, between 17/05/2008 and 19/02/2010
whatdotheyknow.com submitted 323 enquiries to the MoD. Of those
323 enquiries only 3 were relating to UFOs. That calculates as
0.93% of FOIA relating to UFO submissions via the website. It's
another snapshot of how small a percentage the UFO requests
actually are.

Just to put the boot in further, if we look at the latest FOIA
Disclosure Log (a log of all the FOIA requests the MoD has
received between 7th December 2009 and 1st January 2010) the
amount of UFO related requests is 4.08% of the total requests
made. Again, a very small amount.

Now, 2009 was supposed to be a bumper year for reports, but that
doesn't really match with the claims that the UFO Desk was being
closed because of FOIA requests. Requests. Not reports.

Now, Nick Pope claims that in 2007 there were more requests
about UFOs than anything else:


yet the MoDs data shows that this is not the case. Only 120
requests were made. So where Nick has obtained this information
from is beyond me, as the MoDs actual data tells a different
story and this is further verified by Professor Roberts' paper.

According to Nick "hundreds of people were bombarding the MoD
with requests":


Er, no, they weren't. That year it was only 120.

But when Nick was told that all the files were being released
due to this "administrative burden" (same web page), Nick very
generously broke the story to the media. Shame you didn't check
the facts first, Nick.

So, let us put the gargantuan cost of the UFO Desk into context.
According to The Times, the cost is =A344,000 and the UFO Desk
employed one person. (That's right. One. Now employed elsewhere
in the MoD)

The MoD entire budget is around =A339.6billion. Whilst the
Government is looking to cut what it deems unnecessary burdens
maybe they should have looked at the 141 days lost (man-hours in
total) as it gave MoD troops and billion-pounds worth of
equipment to be used in BBC's Top Gear programme. So let me get
this straight, the Government quibbles over =A344k and security of
its airspace, yet troops and their equipment can go play with
Jeremy Clarkson for a grand total of 141 days? (As reported in
The Guardian). The Government and Nick Pope can wring their
hands in horror at the "administrative burden" and the costs
attached to that, but the Government paid over =A337 million in
bonuses of MoD staff in 2009.

The Governments of this world, and the "experts", can all come
forward all give us their sound-bite and their "insights" as to
why decisions are made, but in this case, as in so many others,
the data does not support their claims. There is no desk being
"bombarded" with UFO requests, there is no "administrative
burden", there is no desk costing the MoD huge amounts of cash.
We know this because the MoD's own data tells us so.

What there is, is a group of liars, a group of people who expect
the general public not to ask questions, not to dig in the
background, but to blindly accept what they have been told. The
MoD has been looking to distance itself from the UFO subject for
a long time, and this is just the flimsy excuse it will use. The
MoD will get the usual suspects to toe the party line and tell
us half-truths to further its cause.

This is a continuation of the MoD's end-game or exit strategy
regarding UFOs. So in the future, when there is another
sighting, another incident or another Rendlesham, the MoD can
smugly say that is has nothing to do with UFOs, it was all
closed down due to the "administrative burden" and the "hundreds
of requests" it was receiving, plus all the resources it was
taking up.

Or, as the press and others have just reported, the MoD will
destroy all UFO reports after 30 days. What other Government
department could get away with such a stance? Your local Police
authority will now start destroying crime reports after 30 days?
Your local Social Services will start destroying reports of
children at risk after 30 days? As with all Government
departments it's a case of =91smoke and mirrors'.

Andy Russell

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